[This blog was originally posted on the SmallBox site.]
I took this photo for a Thanksgiving post to express my gratitude for my family, health, and faith, and to commemorate the beginning of the Advent season – a season that for a lot of our families includes many traditions. In mine, for example, we like to cook dozens (12 this year!) of tamales and bake too many cookies.
This photo also represents a family tradition that goes back to before I was born. On Christmas Eve my mom’s family gathers together to cook, eat, drink, catch up, laugh, dance and most importantly, celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. At about a quarter to midnight, we start a sequence of prayer, hymns and Mexican Christmas songs (from an 80-plus-year-old handwritten book from the Motherland) while two lucky people rock grandma’s baby Jesus to sleep (this was especially exciting when my cousins and I were really young – but you never got to do it two years in a row!).
In childhood this celebration took place at grandma’s house, then at my mom’s after grandma grew older and moved in. She passed away in 2010, and my family has continued the tradition. Though super emotional at times, the ritual of the tradition in itself offers a sense of peace and appreciation that I look forward to every year.